Fat Mop Zoo’s second Opposite Day takes us to Citrus Ridge, Florida, the final resting place of the Splendid China miniature theme park. Open in 1993, it had sixty different miniature hand-made replicas of famous Chinese landmarks in 1/10 scale to explore. In addition to the exhibits, park goers could be entertained by a cast of sixty Chinese dancers and performers.
The Great Wall of China replica consisted of over six million one-inch bricks and stretched a half mile. The Imperial Palace covered more than a half acre. The Leshan Giant Buddha (pictured to the left and below) was four stories tall, still dwarfing onlookers even as a miniature.
Despite its grandeur, Splendid China became a source of controversy almost from the moment it was announced.
The theme park was technically more or less owned and operated by the People’s Republic of China. Tibetans and other cultural minorities with cultural landmarks exhibited in the park were actually offended. They felt the theme park essentially claimed these landmarks as China’s own.
Additionally, a number of school boards and teachers’ associations banned field trips to the park. There were many Americans that were unhappy with the park, seeing it as a tool of propaganda. Even those lively Chinese performers were unhappy with the park. Many escaped from the park and sought asylum in the United States. US performers were eventually hired to fill in the empty positions.
The park finally closed after a decade full of protests and controversy. The park was invaded and ransacked by the local youth time and again in the ensuing years. What was left of the miniatures saw pieces stolen or destroyed. Eventually the whole park was slowly being reclaimed by nature. After passing through several owners, the remains of the park started to be torn down in 2013.